American Masters - Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning

American Masters - Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning

Fri, 08/29/2014 - 9:00pm

Pictured: Dorothea Lange with Graflex, 1937, as seen in "American Masters – Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning."

Credit: Courtesy of ©1937, 2014 Rondal Partridge Archives

Her celebrated photograph Migrant Mother is one of the most recognized and arresting images in the world.

The haunting portrait came to represent the suffering of America's Great Depression. Yet few know the story, struggles and profound body of work of the woman who created the portrait: Dorothea Lange (May 26, 1895 — Oct. 11, 1965). American Masters — Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning, premiering Friday, August 29 at 9:00 p.m. on WXXI-TV, explores the life, passions and uncompromising vision of the influential photographer, whose enduring images document five turbulent decades of American history, including the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl and World War II Japanese internment camps.

Peabody- and five-time Emmy award-winning cinematographer Dyanna Taylor — the granddaughter of Lange and writer/social scientist Paul Schuster Taylor — directs and narrates this intimate American Masters documentary.

The film features newly discovered interviews and vérité scenes with Lange from her Bay Area home studio, circa 1962-1965, including work on her unprecedented, one-woman career retrospective at New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Showcasing more than 800 works by Lange, her first husband Maynard Dixon and second husband Paul Schuster Taylor combined, American Masters — Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning reveals the camera as Lange's first muse and the confluence of artists at work and in love. Explaining the impact of these relationships on Lange's life and documentary photography style, filmmaker/narrator Dyanna Taylor demonstrates the challenges of balancing artistic pursuits and family.

The documentary weaves Lange telling her own story with new interviews of family, friends and colleagues, including Lange's son Daniel Dixon; Lange's goddaughter and biographer Elizabeth Partridge; Richard Conrad, Lange's assistant for the MoMA exhibit; photographer Rondal Partridge, Lange's assistant and son of photographers Imogen Cunningham and Roi Partridge; Becky Jenkins, Maynard Dixon's granddaughter; Dr. Margot Taylor-Fanger, Paul Schuster Taylor's daughter; and many others.

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